The large scale movement of women into the paid labor market has brought sweeping change to the structure of family life, affecting who cares for the elderly and children. Today, our society depends, in part, on the caring work of many paid professionals and, as the number of elderly and children grow as is predicted by demographers, our society will increasingly depend on these workers. This policy brief examines the economic well-being of workers in two low-wage, predominantly female care giving occupations plagued with high turnover -- direct care workers (personal care assistants, home care aides, home health aides, and certified nursing assistants) and child care workers (preschool and nursery school teachers, center-based child care providers, and home-based family child care providers). High turnover in both the direct care and child care workforce contributes to lower quality care leading to unfavorable outcomes for the elderly and children. Although these paid caregivers
are employed, hourly wages are low and many live in low-income families and lack health insurance. Furthermore, research shows that those who work in occupations involving care work face a wage penalty, that is they earn less than expected based on their job characteristics and qualifications.